MISSOULA, Mont. - Weber State advanced to the Big Sky Championship game with a thrilling come-from-behind 69-63 win over Portland State in the semifinals of the tournament Tuesday night.
The Wildcats will now take on the winner of Eastern
Washington and Montana in Wednesday's night's championship game with the winner
advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The game will be at 7:00 p.m. broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
Portland State never trailed in the first half and led by as many as seven points, before taking a 35-30 lead at the break. The Wildcats took their first lead at 40-39 with 16:35 to play after a Scott Bamforth three-pointer. But Portland State came fighting back with a 10-0 run and held a 49-40 lead with 14:01 to play.
The Vikings led by at least five points for the next seven minutes. Weber State was able to tie it up at 62 with 3:47 to play. After a driving layup by Gelaun Wheelwright the 'Cats took the lead for good at 64-62 with 2:24 to play. WSU was 5-6 from the foul line down the stretch.
"I was extremely proud of our kids and the way they fought and battled back," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. "Portland State played a very tough game and it's really tough to beat a team three times but we were able to find a way to win. I'm really happy for this team."
Weber State had a season-low 22 rebounds with Portland State winning the rebounding edge 30-22. The 'Cats shot 51 percent from the field. The Wildcats were also 13-16 from the free throw line and had nine turnovers.
Damian Lillard, the second leading scorer in the nation and Big Sky MVP, led the Wildcats once again, finishing with 22 points on 6-14 shooting. Lillard was also 9-10 from the free throw line and added four assists and tied his career-high with four steals.
Wheelwright tied his career-high with 15 points and provided a spark for the 'Cats off the bench. He was 6-10 from the field for the 'Cats. Kyle Tresnak added 10 and Scott Bamforth had nine.
With the win the 'Cats improve to 24-5 on the season. Portland State falls to 17-14. Charles Odum led the Vikings with 24 points and Chehales Tapscott added 19 points and 11 rebounds.